LAHORE - The Government College University Lahore, one of the oldest seats of higher learning in the country, has turned 153 today.

Founded on January 1, 1864 in the Haveli of Raja Dhyan Singh in the Walled City Lahore as liberal arts and science college with its motto as “courage to know”, the GCU in these 153 years served as a nourishing stream to hundreds of generations of talented men and women who walked of its portals with heads held high, enriched with the wholesome personalities.

According to the college’s first history written by former principal Prof H.L.O. Garrett, the Government College was the first seat of liberal education in North-Western India, later to become Pakistan. One of the major institutional objectives of the Government College Lahore was to acknowledge the local intelligence and to instill a widespread academic and scholarly spirit.

Among the initial nine enrollments, Mr Sanjhi Mall walked out of the college as the first graduate in 1868.

The college, which began with just nine students and three professors, now has more than 11,500 students and offering graduate and postgraduate programs in about 40 disciplines. The present gothic-style majestic building of the university was completed in 1877 on 3,700 square feet in the north of then called ‘Soldiers Garden’ with a cost of Rs320,000.

The college was initially affiliated with the Calcutta University as there was no university in this part of the sub-continent at that time. It was raised to the status of University in 2002 and was renamed as the Government College University Lahore. From first principle Dr G.W Lietner to fourth Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah, as many as 28 heads have served this great institution.

Talking to media yesterday, Vice Chancellor Prof Hassan Amir Shah said that on the eve of their 154th Founders’ Day, they expressed gratitude to the long list of illustrious principals, professors and students whose hard work and efforts brought this great institution to its present position of eminence.

The VC proudly said that the GCU in its 153-years academic travel produced hundreds of eminent literary figures, politicians, two Nobel Laureates, five prime ministers, jurists, sportsmen, generals in armed forces and scientists.

Poet of East Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, N.M Rashid, Patras Bukhari, Ashfaq Ahmad, Qudsia Bano; Nobel Laureates Prof Dr Abdus Salam and Prof Dr Hargobind Khorana, Chief Justice M. R. Kyani, Chief Justice Naseem Hassan Shah and the new Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar are Old Ravains.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former army chief General Raheel Sharif were also old students of GCU. Noted Indian actor Dev Anand, Rafi Peer, Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Ali Zafar, Hadiqa Kyani and Jawad Ahmad also studied from Government College Lahore.

Out of 140 experts who had carried nuclear explosions in 1998, as many as 60 were Old Ravians and their team leader, Dr Samar Mubarikmand, who pressed the button for explosions was also the former students of the Government College Lahore.

In their messages on GCU’s birthday, the GCU senior faculty members and alumni paid the rich tributes to the efforts of Dr Leitner, the first principle of Government College, and pledged that they would put in the best of their efforts maintain wonderful traditions of academic excellence, research, promotion of new ideas and above all, respect for others’ belief and views.